Today I read an interesting article that quoted Schiano as saying the trade wasn't about sending a message to the rest of the team. "The only message I want to address is we need to be the best football team we can be."
And that's where he loses me. If this is exclusively about improving talent on the roster, you're not going to find many people saying that Clark and a 7th rounder are better than Winslow. If injuries we're a concern, they may be a bigger concern with Clark.
But we all knew that. What's really bugging me is this: If we wanted to improve our roster, why not just keep Winslow and sign Clark? The cap room's certainly there for Clark's $2.7 mllion, which would probably be a lot lower, it seems like we were desperate to sign the only tight end left on the market and threw enough money at him that he couldn't say no. The guy couldn't get a job with the Pats, or even with Manning and the Broncos. We we're the only team that wanted him. It's strongly possible he would've bounced around working out for other teams, ultimately signing for half that, or even the league minimum.
I've long been a fan of offensive packages that include two recieving tight ends. Gronk and Hernandez of the Pats are a great example. It's not like Eric Lorig is an impact player anyway, taking him off the feild and putting in Clark in addition to Winslow could probably open up the run as much or more than the pass. We'd also have another red zone thread. Just like in a great wide reciever tandem, in a tight end tandem they make eachother better. Few teams have the ability to cover two recieving tight ends at once without putting in a nickel back that leaves the run open, or bringing down a safety that leaves the deep ball open. Do you think Vincent Jackson would have been so successful as a 'deep threat' without the underneath coverage focused on Antonio Gates? Don't be suprised if there's a dropoff in VJ's stats and it's no fault of Freeman's.
Would it be that hard to get Drake Dunsmore on the practice squad, and carry Clark, Winslow, and Stocker? Actually, Dunsmore plays some fullback too, so he could make the regular season roster because of his versatility. Currently, the situation at tight end looks grim. We have an injury ridden possible has-been, a developing kid with a low ceiling (sorry, I just don't think Stocker has the athletic ability to ever more than above average), and a kid who, like last year's 7th round tight end, might not even make the roster.
Had we both of them, I could see it as Schiano said, "the best football team we can be." Another weapon for Freeman and another (great, underrated) wrinkle for the offense. With the current move, I just don't see it as the best option that was available, and that makes the decision and Schiano's explanation a bit shady.
I mean honestly, there's no reason not to keep em both.